We tried Singapore’s worst-rated Lor Mee stall
In all honesty, I sought out Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee without knowing of its reputation online. All I knew about this hawker stall was that: 1) it sold lor mee; 2) it’s listed on the Michelin Guide; and 3) it’s located at Amoy Street Food Centre.
By all means, it seemed like Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee was pretty decent. Multiple other food bloggers had also written about them, attesting to their long legacy as they’ve been at Amoy Street Food Centre since 1984. Even famous Australian chef Marion Grasby was seen patronising the stall on 7 Mar 2023!
It was only when I took a look at its Google Reviews that I did a triple take. “Wait… This can’t be right,” I said to myself. “1.8 stars… Really?!”
Indeed, at the time of writing, Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee had racked up an abysmal rating of 1.8 stars, with a total of 85 reviews.
Most reviews agreed that while Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee served a great bowl of lor mee in the past, standards have since dropped to a point of no return.
“Avoid at all cost,” the reviews said. “The lor sauce is a watery mess of sandy sour water I cannot even call it broth.” And the worst comment I’ve seen thus far: “You have to murder me to get me to come back.”
What I tried at Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee
It was with much anticipation (mixed with apprehension) that I made my way to Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee, which is located on the second floor of Amoy Street Food Centre.
Despite this hawker centre being famous for having long queues at almost every stall, especially during lunch hour, the first tell-tale sign of trouble was Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee’s nonexistent queue.
At any one point of time, even while I was eating, there only seemed to be one or at most two people in the queue, while its neighbours had queues that stretched along the aisle of the hawker centre.
There’s only one item on Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee’s menu: Lor Mee (S$5). It also only came in a single default size, though you can choose to Add Ingredients (S$6/S$7).
My first impression wasn’t great, and I found myself frowning at my bowl of Lor Mee. The gravy was more dark brown than black, resembling muddy water, and its consistency was far from thick. In fact, the gravy was so liquidy that if I tilted my bowl, I could literally slide my noodles around.
As far as its ingredients went, I spotted half a piece of fried fish, small bits of pork belly, and plenty of fried batter bits. The sauce also barely covered half the bowl.
“This is definitely not lor mee gravy,” I told myself as I took my first sip of the dark brown liquid.
It tasted more peppery than vinegary, with a slight hint of sourness that made me think of hot and sour soup from Chinese restaurants. There was zero hint of garlic, with just a smidgen of spice, and with much surprise, I even bit into a whole peppercorn at some point.
After several sips, I could finally detect a slight meatiness to the gravy, which bore a faint resemblance to lor mee, but this was in no way up to par with an average bowl from your usual kopitiam or hawker centre. It lacked the savoury, salty full-bodiedness that gives lor mee its oomph factor.
Frankly, just a douse of soy sauce would’ve made it all the more better.
To my disappointment, I only spotted half a piece of fried fish in my Lor Mee. And to think this was the default serving size from Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee!
Granted, there were a few other pieces of non-fried fish meat in the bowl, but I know lor mee to be famous for its deep-fried fish or shark meat nuggets.
“Did S$5 not even entitle me to a full piece of fried fish?”, I thought sadly, as I popped the measly piece into my mouth.
I moved on to the fried batter bits, which were given in generous amounts, though frankly, they puzzled me. Were these meant to be ngoh hiang? Were these my long lost deep-fried fish nuggets? Or were these just plain flour pieces that had been deep fried?
I think it was only after my 3rd or 4th piece that I gave up trying to figure out what these were, and resigned myself to accepting that these were indeed deep-fried flour bits that weren’t even the least bit satisfying.
Not only were they not freshly deep-fried (I noticed it had been sitting on serving trays at Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee’s storefront), they had grown immensely soggy after being steeped in the watery gravy.
Well, at least I had been given a generous amount of them, I suppose.
While Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee’s pork belly slices were decently tasty, I found myself baffled by its size, as these were tiny, XS slices of pork belly.
Frankly, I’ve never seen pork belly this small. Each piece must’ve been the size of a (small) thumb or slightly smaller.
As with the other articles in our worst-rated series, I had intended to speak with the owner to give my honest feedback. While there wasn’t much of a queue at Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee, the swarm of white-collar workers during peak lunch hour was enough to persuade me to come back another day when it might be less busy.
Was this a passable bowl of lor mee? In some way, yes, especially when you toss the yellow noodles together with the questionable gravy. But this certainly wasn’t a standard that I’d associate with the Michelin Guide, and I struggled to finish my S$5 bowl of Lor Mee despite being famished.
Both my dining partner and I came to the conclusion that this was a stall we’d only patronise if we were in a rush and there was no queue, or if everything else was closed for the day. It’s certainly not something we would seek out or crave for.
I hope to give a promising update the next time I’m back to speak to the owner. Fingers crossed that the uncle’s infamous brisk attitude won’t bite me in return!
Expected damage: S$5 – S$7 per pax
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